March 14, 2014

The man behind Bobby in the Morris-Jenkins commercials

You may know J.R. Adduci as Bobby in the Morris-Jenkins commercials, but he’s really an accomplished actor.

He’s a familiar face on Charlotte TV. As the character “Bobby” of the Morris-Jenkins commercials, James Roy Adduci is also an accomplished stage and screen actor.

Adduci has had several small roles in TV shows and films, including “Guiding Light” and Michael Landon Jr.’s, “The Ultimate Life.” In between auditioning and acting in various plays, he worked as a food server where he came in contact with the likes of Stephen Spielberg, Christopher Walker and Anthony Hopkins, among others.

Actor James Earl Jones advised him: “Take chances and never give up.”

After 12 years in New York, he returned to Charlotte with his wife, Sumanah Kahn. He wanted to reconnect with friends and start a family. It was two years before he felt ready to jump back into performing.

At East Mecklenburg High School he says he found respite in the auditorium, drawn to the rehearsals. He eventually joined the school’s drama club and says his drama teacher Glenda Kale pushed him.

Adduci joined the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte at age 16 and credits his first mentor, Dr. Scott Miller, for believing in him: “When I was ready, he gave me more lines than the adults.” His first play was “Stranger on the Bus.” .

“J.R. understood that his talent came with a sense of responsibility,” said Miller. “He loved doing plays that could change other peoples’ lives.”

When Adduci threw himself back into acting after his hiatus, he instantly became in demand in Charlotte. He seized leading roles from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to “Taming of the Shrew.”

“When I found out I got the role of R.P. McMurphy (“Cuckoo’s Nest”), I jumped up and down,” said Adduci. “But when I got off the phone, I became really scared! Playing such an iconic role that Jack Nicholson made legendary, I started to doubt I could make a role like that work for me and not just make a repeat of the movie.”

After rehearsals, Adduci said: “I had to feel the insecurities to be able to push my own envelope instead of playing it safe, which I’ve done before. It’s always more satisfying at the end if I push myself further than I think I can go.”

Adduci continues to look for opportunities to stretch. “My goal is to bring my truth to everything I do,” he said. “I hope that my art can touch others and invoke their thoughts.”

“J.R. was such a joy to work with,” said Scott A. Miller, who played with him in Charlotte Shakespeare Festival’s “King Lear.” “He fostered a comfortable and collaborative atmosphere, which is exactly what you want in a fellow actor.”

“J.R. has no limits,” said Michael Simmons, artistic director of Carolina Actors Studio Theatre. “He makes acting look easy but doesn’t rely on talent alone. He is willing to give up all of himself to serve the art. And he’s incredibly kind.”

Adduci keeps busy. He creates music for his hip-hop company, The United Statements, and writes for and dabbles in screenplays and plays. In addition, he co-runs a film and video company, Famous No.Body. He also enjoys landscaping and playing the harmonica.

Adduci is humbled by all he’s experienced. “Artists are cool. They don’t pass judgment,” he said. “Now I’m going to take a bath and read my script. I read all of my scripts in the bathtub.”

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